During the first week of your baby's life you will receive encouragement and support from your midwife and your maternity nurse (kraamzorg), to help you on your way to establishing successful breastfeeding. An excellent start that you are sure not to get anywhere else in the world as part of the standard care you receive !
Along the way you are sure to have questions or even experience problems. It may be an idea to find a specific forum specialising in discussing problems to do with breastfeeding. I found the Borstvoedings Forum quite good, but it is in Dutch. Can you recommend an English one that you've found really useful ? Please let us know !
If you're really stuck then you can pay for some serious advice by calling the Dutch Organisation of Breastfeeding Experts (Nederlandse Vereniging van Lactatiekundigen). Here are a few examples of what you can contact them for:
- Info and advice about breastfeeding
- Problems getting baby to latch on
- Baby refusing to breastfeed
- When breastfeeding becomes painful
- Recurring breast infections (mastitis)
- Insufficient milk supply/ insufficient growth of baby
- Premature babies
- Sickness or handicap of mother or baby
- Beginning again with breastfeeding
You will get an initial appointment of around 1.5 hours, during which time a plan of action will be drawn up. The costs for this advisory service is €54 per hour (exclusive of VAT). Advice over the phone costs €0.54 per minute (exclusive of VAT). On their website they state that they are currently in negotiations to get the costs of this service refunded through the health insurance. For the time being that you will have to pay for this privately but it seems that some breakthroughs are being made: Agis health insurance company is currently advertising on the radio (November '06) that they will refund these costs.
Working and Breastfeeding
After leaving hospital with my new born, I was given a leaflet for the La Leche League. This is a world wide organisation providing support to breastfeeding mothers. I was sorely disappointed with information provided on La Leche League websites, and found the information there very old fashioned, eg. they say that when a mother returns to work and continues to breastfeed, sometimes a baby will start to feed more in the evening when mum comes home. They suggest co-sleeping so that the baby can feed on demand during the night, which also reduces the need to express whilst in work. Terrible advice in my opinion. Not expressing regularly reduces your milk supply, whilst on demand feeding causes tummy upsets/colic and unstructured feeding times at the wrong time of day. Exactly when a mum should be resting and getting a good nights sleep, they suggest broken sleep is the norm ! I manged to successfully breastfeed while working for 4 months. By NOT following those guidelines I was able to establish a good routine which worked well for both me and baby. Here's how a typical day looked:
|06:00||Express milk at home for baby's breakfast, then leave for work.|
|10:00||Express 150-200ml milk at work. He will drink this the following day at the crèche at 10:00.|
|14:00||Express 150-200ml milk at work. He will drink this the following day at the crèche at 14:00.|
|19:00||Breastfeeding baby myself at home.|
|23:00||Breastfeeding baby myself at home.|
|Avent Breast Pump|
|Two large Avent feeding bottles with tops|
|4 cooler elements (the sort you get for your picnic basket !) pre-frozen at home|
|Small padded cooler bag, just big enough to line withe the cooler elements and fit two feeding bottles in the middle.|
|Absorbent cloth for putting across knee while expressing.|
|A photo of my baby. This really worked so well in getting the let down reflex to kick in !|
|Steriliser ? You only need to wash the pump and sterilise it once per day. I got this confirmation from the district nurse at the consultatieburo.|
The Association of Breastfeeding Mothers provides a leaflet of really helpful tips and information on expressing milk when you go back to work. Visit The Working Mom for practicletips and funny stories.
Dutch Legislation for Breastfeeding Mothers
There is extremely good legislation in place for breastfeeding mothers concerning the amount of time you are allowed to spend breastfeeding your baby. My breast pump broke when I was in work so I made extra use of this to go home early and get a spare part sorted out for the pump !
Period of breastfeeding, working hours legislation, article 4:8 (original)
- A female employee who is breastfeeding her baby is allowed, as long as she has informed her employer, to spend time during her normal working hours to breastfeed and/or express milk. She is allowed to do this until her baby reaches 10 months of age.
- The time spent feeding and/or expressing milk is allowed to occur as frequently and for any length of time necessary as long as it does not exceed 1/4 of the working time per day/shift. The actual time should be set out after discussion with the employer.
- The time spent feeding and/or expressing milk will be viewed as working time and will be paid as normal.
- Every condition that deviates from this article, which negatively affects the employee, is null and void.
Arbo Decree, article 3.48
A room which can be locked should be made available for pregnant employees and employees who are breastfeeding their babies, so that they can have the opportunity to rest. In this room there will be a comfortable fold up bed or sofa available.
Additional Information in the Arbo Leaflet
As well as the above information this leaflet also states that the room which is made available must be suitable, pose no dangers, and be sufficiently ventilated. It states that if such a room can not be made available then the employee should be given time to go home to breastfeed and/or express milk. They also suggest you contacting your company doctor at the Arbo (bedreifsarts), workers union, labour inspectorate (arbeidsinspectie) if you are unable to reach a suitable arrangement with your employer.